Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World 2010

I have heard all sorts of praise for this movie since it came out, even though it seemed destined to become an immediate cult movie. It was a pretty dismal failure at the box office, making just over half of it’s fairly impressive $60 million budget. I find that it’s actually rather fitting that I watched this movie after watching Unbreakable. Because it’s like different sides of the same coin. Where Unbreakable was understated, slow paced, and ultra realistic, Scott Pilgrim is over the top, fast paced, and extremely stylized. Yet it can be said about both of them that there is no other movie out there quite like either of them. I went into this movie knowing very little about it. I knew the basic plot that Scott falls in love with an alt chick and has to fight her seven exes, and there’s a resounding comic book slash classic video game slash anime influence. That’s putting it mildly. It’s like an anime ate a comic book while playing a video game and had a love child with a superhero movie and this is the resulting child of that event. It’s definitely not a movie for everyone, I wasn’t sure where it was going at the beginning, but once I got into it I really enjoyed it.

I think the biggest problem I have with this movie is at the heart of it, it feels like it wants to be a love story. But it’s not. There is a relationship at the center of this movie, in fact there’s about a dozen relationships in this movie, past, previous, and future. But at the core of it is that it’s not truly about the guy getting the girl, it’s much more about a coming of age movie. Both for the guy and the girl to stop making the same bad decisions in their life, learning what they truly want for themselves, and getting it at the end. But I’m not truly sure that by the end of the movie, anyone really learned a lesson from the whole situation. Scott is presented as a nice guy who made a bad decision, said he was sorry, and everybody was happy. I don’t know, I just wasn’t really convinced by it, though I suppose it could be just another part of the hyper reality presented just the same as the rest of the movie.

I suppose I should comment on the hyper reality as I like to call it. From the very beginning where the Universal logo is done in 8-bit graphics with midi music playing, it’s obvious that this isn’t going to be based entirely in reality. There are all sorts of labels popping up identifying all the characters, though I managed to lose track of many of them because they come so fast and furious, introducing a dozen or so characters in just the first few minutes of the movie. And after he meets Ramona, the hipster chick with the shockingly colored hair, it’s hard to tell if the movie becomes a dream sequence, or how it exactly related to reality. And every time Scott’s band plays music, there are comic book inspired onomatopoeias visually flying out from their instruments. When the battles start, it turns into a combination of fighting game and anime, complete with the words “vs.” and “Fight!” accompanied by video game style voiceovers. After that, there is surprisingly well chorefographed martial arts fight sequences between the very non-action-star actors. One fight scene even has a moment of hammerspace, where Ramona pulls an impossibly large hammer out of her small backpack. And when the enemies are defeated, a score pops up over their heads. There is a bit of a question as to how real this is in the world of the movie, though it seems as if in the world of the movie, these fantastic fights are actually happening for real. Many of the onlookers react as if something unbelievable is happening, and after they are defeated into a mass of quarters, the characters occasionally comment about their deaths. I rather enjoyed all of the fight scenes, it’s not everyday when you’re able to see Michael Cera go toe to toe with Chris Evans and Brandon Routh. Of course I have to mention the two that played notable superheroes, there’s even a brief cameo by Thomas Jane.

I liked him in this movie even more than his cameo in Zack and Miri make a Porno.

One thing that’s an interesting bit of trivia is the use of numbers throughout the movie. Most of the exes are represented by a number, whether it’s right up front on their shirt, or if it’s referenced in some other way. And on top of that, Scott himself is often represented by the number zero. He wears it on his shirt, and it’s made known several times during the movie that he enjoys drinking Coke Zero. You can read into it a few different ways, he is presented as quite the nerd, or at least a goofball, so the zero could easily refer to the fact that he thinks of himself as a zero. But that’s a hard line to identify with too much due to the fact that he’s also referenced as having many different girlfriends himself. The other possibility for the reference to zero, is that all the other exes can be referred to as the numbers 1 through 7, so the fact that he’s number 0 could refer to the fact that he’s the last one. Or at the very least the current one. Honestly, I got the feeling that it was mostly just used as a piece of movie trivia.

I think the thing that really made me enjoy the movie the most is the humor used throughout. Even though I’m not a fan of Seinfeld, I thought it was pretty funny when the theme music came on and the movie suddenly turned into a sitcom for the course of that scene. I also really enjoyed Keiran Culkin’s character, I think he had some of the funniest lines, like when he’s heckling one of the other bands, or when he manages to text Scott’s sister while he’s unconscious. I also got a kick out of every time they did the sudden-sit-up-straight-out-of-bed moment, immediately with various other guys following suit. I think I have to give this movie another shot, there is really all sorts of things packed into it, and if you’re familiar with many of the references, then you would probably enjoy the movie. Personally, I’m kind of torn about how I feel about it right now. But at the very least, it is an extremely unique movie and I’m glad that I got the chance to watch it. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.

About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 500 superhero and comic book movies in the past seven years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on July 12, 2012, in 10's movies, Other Comics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I was a really big fan of this movie, which I found a bit bizarre, ‘cos I couldn’t finish the comics. I disagree with you, though, on the central premise; it is entirely a love story, just not a typical love story. The ways in which we abuse each other in relationships for reasons completely unrelated to the relationship itself and entirely related to how lost in ourselves we are is one of the strongest themes in the movie. Perhaps some of my own cultural/social/romantic experiences at about the same age caused me to take certain things from this movie that others might not, though.
    And on the subject of not learning any lessons, I find this to be the case in most film/TV that falls primarily in the comedy genre, I’m not entirely sure why writers/directors/producers avoid character growth, but it seems to be one of the tropes of the genre.

  2. I think you can’t try to decipher fact from fiction in this movie. There’s not a lot of rhyme or reason as to why things happen. it’s meant to be a fun ride full of hilarious dialogue and great audio/visual style. To me, it more than accomplished that. Another cool fact is that the fight scenes were choreographed by the Jackie Chan stunt team.

    • Nice, I didn’t know that about the fight scenes. I started going through the IMDB trivia, but that page was huuuuge and only made it through the first third or so. The reality within the movie just felt kind of odd. I think I would have accepted it more if all the other characters accepted it more. As it was in the movie, the characters acted as if what was happening was rather unusual, but not something that’s never happened before. I just thought it need a little bit more consistency, whichever way they decided to go with it.

  3. I adore this film! Absolutely adore it. The more I see it the more I love it. I remember quickly reading the comics before the film came out and was really blown away by how faithful it was.

    The fight scenes are fantastic. It was strange in the beginning seeing actors like Michael Cera and Jason Schwartzmann in these scenes because they’re not typically action film actors.

    Glad you enjoyed it!

    • I’ve since watched it another one and a half times, and while I was initially a little more than lukewarm toward it, it’s growing on me. I don’t think it’ll make my year end top 10 list, but it’s a pretty great movie.

  4. I very much want to see this movie. Nice review.

  1. Pingback: The Best of the Decade pt. 2: Indies and Non-Superheroes | Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights

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